Administrative assessments are court fees charged to a defendant who is convicted of DUI, on top of the criminal fine.
Administrative assessments go by many names: court fees, administrative fees, and penalty assessments. All of these terms refer to the same thing. They are fees that you must pay to the court if convicted of DUI. These fees are on top of the official criminal fine that is mandated by state law.
Assessments began in the mid to late 20th century as a way to help local courts meet their budget. Courts were and are underfunded, but their expenses have gone up considerably over the years. The idea behind administrative assessments is simple: make the criminals pay for the courts. While this idea sounds fair, in practice it has put a tremendous financial burden on people guilty of non-violent crimes. Many DUI defendants find themselves owing five to 10 times more than the official fine. This is far from fair.
Technically, all misdemeanors carry court assessments, not just DUI. These assessments are used to fund the court building and the services it provides. But DUI crimes carry additional assessments on top of the ordinary court assessments. They are used to fund many services and programs:
- Processing your driver’s license suspension
- Pulling your criminal record to check if you are a repeat offender
- Funding programs directly related to DUI, such as enforcement, deterrent programs, etc.
How much will DUI administrative assessments cost me?
It depends on the exact type of DUI you are charged with. As an example, here are the three most common DUI charges with their fees and assessments:
First Time DUI
- Fine: $390 to $1,000
- Assessments: about $1,400 to $2,600
- Total: $1,800 to $3,600
Second Offense DUI
- Fine: $390 to $1,000
- Assessments: about $1,400 to $3,000
- Total: $1,800 to $4,000
Third or Subsequent DUI
- Fine: $390 to $5,000
- Assessments: about $1,400 to $13,000
- Total: up to $18,000
Court assessments are decided locally, so the exact amount will depend on whether you were arrested in Los Angeles County or elsewhere.
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